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Wood, Lucius Francis
Group of 4 Pocket Diaries kept by Patent Medicine Salesman and Peddler, Lucius Francis Wood, of West Townsend, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 1871, 1872, 1875 and 1884

narrow octavos, 529 pages of manuscript entries, plus 54 pages of manuscript memoranda and accounts, bound in various original bindings, cloth backed flexible wraps, sheep, etc. Entries in ink and pencil, some smudging, few pages torn or loose, else in generally good legible condition.

   Manuscript diaries which record the travels of Lucius F. Wood, patent medicine salesman, on his route from town to town peddling the various wares of Dr. Edward Hartshorn, patent medicine manufacturer of Boston. Wood also sold compounds and tonics of his own. 

 

           Lucius Francis Wood was born in Bolton, Massachusetts on November 9, 1816, and while young he learned the shoemaker’s trade. He was dissatisfied with the life of a cobbler and desired a more active life, so he contacted Dr. Edward Hartshorn who hired him as a traveling salesman peddling Hartshorn’s patent medicines, tonics, essences and compounds, which Wood did until he reached the age of 83.

           Wood’s employer, Dr. Edward Hartshorn (1818-1906) was a physician who received his medical degree from Harvard in 1840, and went on to market various cure-alls during the patent medicine era. Hartshorn is listed in the 1893 Boston business directory at 71 Blackstone Street.

 

            Wood’s diaries record his travels, his territory covered all of New England, he was often away from home for 3 months at a time. Wood notes his customers, records every check sent to E. Hartshorn & Sons, recording the name of the town he sent if from, the amount and even the check number. Wood records every place he stayed, either the name of the hotel or of the person he stayed with. Wood notes the expenses he paid for his wife’s care while he was on the road, noting the names of all who took care of her and the amount paid. With the amount of time he spent on the road it should not be surprising that Wood was married three times. His first wife was Ellen Davis, second Sarah Isabelle Gerry, and his last wife was Harriet N. Ball.

      Wood records a few medicinal formulas, later in life he made and marketed his own compounds. Wood was apparently a Republican in politics, noting in his entry for November 5, 1872 “I voted for Grant and Wilson.” Wood died April 20, 1915 at the age of 99.

 

      Sample Entries:

 

      “Jan. 1, 1871, At home. Took inventory assisted by my wife. By Jan. 3, (he is now back on the road) and writes "got put up at Estey's. Jan. 4, Put up at Mr. Bowen's hotel in Belchertown. Went to Baptist Prayer meeting. Took inventory again in part. Jan. 5, Put up in Jared Gould's in Parkersville. Took in 3 cases of medicine. Got a certificate of Dr. Chapin for 2 and sent him with good tins to Liverpool, New York. Extra bottles #19 & 70. Jan. 6 Put up at the Ware Hotel, Mass. Jan. 7, Put up at M. smith in North Brookfield. Went to West Warren. Shaw P. Bennett paid $6.00 on this date. Shepard paid off his bill from August $3.00. Blair R. Keyes paid their bill of May 28 for $8.00, Jan. 10, Sent E. Hartshorn & Sons a check for $100, from the Leicester National Bank. Jan. 11, Put up at Charleston Depot, near Boston. Jan. 12, Put up at the Globe Village House. Jan. 13, Had dinner at B. Goodell's in Woodstock, Vermont. Then put up at Hotel in Eastford & sold to Bower. Sent E. Hartshorn & Sons check for $50 drawn on Southbridge National Bank. Then went to Conn. and put up at the Kingsbury Hotel in E. Killingsley. Francis F. Cooley in Putnam has a boy about 4 years old it seems he wishes to give him away."

 

      "March 30, 1871, Left team at William Abners hotel in Enfield, Conn. Left peddle cart at E. Potters to be varnished. Can have it the first of May. Borrowed peddle cart off Loomis in Suffield to try at home. Will return in 2 weeks. April 10, I started from home and went to Enfield, my cart parked at William Abners. I went to Boston and traded with Brother Augustine. Oct. 2, At home. Paid for shingling my house. Cost me nearly $100. Was sick with a cold. Sent to bed and took a week off. My wife, her mother, Mr. Upham & I signed the pledge. Oct. 4, Stopped at William Emerson's in Oxford, Mass and was well treated. Must bring him something when I am round about with the team. Mr. Sorel has proved that A. Russell has cheated me out of goods left for sale. Oct. 5, Put up at Joseph Grants in Putnam, Conn. A good place. Engaged a water elevator of Albert Johnson of Putnam, Conn, for S. Knight at Harvard Depot, and brought me a rope for my well. Oct. 6, Went to Hartford and then returned to Naugatuck where I left my team when I got sick. Should have returned sooner but for my ill health. I am on the gain. Put up at Mr. Curtis's found everything all right."

 

      "Jan. 1, 1872, At home. Took an inventory of goods & account in account with Dr. E. Hartshorn & Sons. May this year be a useful, prosperous & happy one to myself & family and especially to the cause of Christ. Jan. 2, Sent E. Hartshorn & Sons $10.00 by mail from West Townsend. Went to Worcester for my wagon and put up at the Exchange Hotel. Ordered sent to W. Townsend - 12 doz 18 - 8 dozen 20 oz. Stayed at Exchange. Oct. 4, At home, my dearest wife died about midnight this morning and has gone to a world where darkness and sorrow never come. She has gone to join the sorority of our dear loved ones who have gone before her. With the Saints and Angels. Especially with the Tribunal who will meet her there. Wife was laid out by Mrs. Albert Howe, Mrs. Colburn, Aunt Rachel and mother. Dr. Odonal gave her resting powders. Oct. 6, Funeral at 1 1/2 o'clock A.M. Sermon by A. W. Carr of Hyde Park, Mass. The sermon was excellent. Brother Wilder & wife were at the funeral and no others of my blood relatives except them. Oct. 22, Mother and Rachel went home to Harvard. I paid Aunt Rachel and gave her Isabelle's house dress. Nov. 2, Put up at S. Knight's. Left my horses sick at South Framingham Hotel with the horse disease. Signed an order for Abner Curry enabling him to draw from the savings bank in Lancaster. The money there is in the name of my wife. Nov. 5, I voted for Grant and Wilson."

 

     "Jan. 1, 1875, At home. May my aim this year be to glorify my Heavenly father. Traded at home. Jan. 4, Went to Boston and saw Hartshorn there. Went to Prayer meeting and formed The Sons Of Temperance division. Jan. 6, Went to Cherry Valley. Put up at Mrs. Warrens in Worcester. Sent my wife of shorts (his new wife) money for paint. Jan. 8, Put up at Chester, Mass. Inquired of Hartshorn whether he sent to Keefe Brothers the mucilage & machine oil as ordered. He sent the oil but not the mucilage. July 30, Put up at Shelburne Falls, Mass. Was sick with diarrhea. Went to band in Berkshires. Lake Pleasant in the town of Montague. Received benefit from the recreation. Aug. 2, Put up at the Richmond House. Dinner at Mr. Whitcomb's on the height of Hoosac Mountain. Saw the flare of the center shaft of the Hoosac Tunnel. Good farmers on the Mount but some are letting them go. Mr. Whitcomb is improving his very well. Sept. 9, At home. The second day of the Worcester North Baptist Association with us. The people of all denominations worked well together and gave liberally. Sept. 11, At home. Worked for the Society most of the week. Edith is improving. Sept. 12, Heard Mr. Hunt preach. Let Mrs. Briggs have some Library books for her Sabbath school. Nov. 25, At home. Thanksgiving. Friends and family at my house."